Tuesday, September 27, 2016

THINK QUICK with Author Henry Hertz

by Kirsti Call

Hi Henry! Congrats on the release of Little Red Cuttlefish.  I love how this story encourages bravery and ingenuity in children.  All of the THINK QUICK themes below appear in your book. Let’s see which way you lean. Remember, THINK QUICK!

On Cuttlefish:
Preferred pets or ocean friend?

I have no idea how practical it would be, but I'd LOVE to have a cuttlefish pet!

On Tiger Sharks:
Malicious or Misunderstood?

Misunderstood. As was said in Finding Nemo, "Fish gotta' swim. Birds' gotta' eat." You can't blame predators for wanting to eat. It is in their nature.

On Bullies:
Stand up to them or Run Away?

While in some cases, it makes sense to run away, the only long-term solution to a bully is to stand up to them.

On Seafood:
Love it or Leave it?

Love some, leave some. Smoked salmon on bagel? You betcha'! But I cannot fathom what must have gone through the mind of the first person walking on the beach to spot an oyster and say, "Hey, I think I'll crack open this bumpy rock and slurp down the gooey, slimy contents."

On Strangers:
Talk to them or ignore them? (Or do you prefer to ink them?)

Ignore strangers, unless they offer to give you a ride in their car, in which case INK them!

On Journeys:
Adventure or Chore?

Yes to both. I'm a planner, not a pantser. Family vacations always start with the chore of planning to make sure we know where to go and have a place to stay. But once we're at our destination, the adventure begins. Better adventures through planning!

On Creativity:
Art or Music?

C'mon, that's like asking to choose between eating and breathing.

On Saving the Day:
Brain or Brawn?

Brains. Every. Time. As MacGuyver taught us, brains plus duct tape enable you to solve any problem.

On  Fairy Tales:
Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood?

If we're talking about the original fairy tales, then Cinderella. She is a good person who eventually is treated kindly. The original Little Red Riding Hood is a gullible girl who ends up in a wolf's belly.

On Books:
The Little Red Cuttlefish or The Little Red Cuttlefish? Of Course!

It's a tie! 

Of Course!  

Review by Kirsti Call

I love fractured fairy tales and this story of Little Red Cuttlefish is no exception. Little Red Cuttlefish encounters obstacles on her way to deliver crab cakes to her grandmother. Kids will relate to the main character and her adventures in protecting her grandmother.

The illustrations enhance the story with an expressive and colorful palette. Peppered with lively language and a few fun puns, this is a great read-aloud. I especially like Grandmother's line: "All this swimming has made me so hungry, she said. "I bet we could wolf down these crab cakes."

I recommend this for kids who enjoy fairy tale retellings and ocean stories. 

Henry Herz writes fantasy and science fiction for children. He is represented by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency. He and his sons wrote MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, 2015), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican, 2016), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016), and DINOSAUR PIRATES (Sterling, 2017).

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September Mentor Text Check in and Challenge: Favorite Books

by Kirsti Call

What's the magic formula?  Is there something that all stellar books have in common?

If the answer were simple, we'd all be writing best-sellers. But that's why mentor texts are so helpful.  By reading our favorite texts, we can find commonalities and incorporate them into our manuscripts.

Here's the September Mentor Text Challenge.  Read your 3 favorite picture books and ask yourself these questions.

What do these books have in common?
Why do these books resonate with me?
How can I incorporate these things in my manuscripts?

What commonalities do you find in your 3 favorite picture books?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Andrea Beatty Talks Mentor Texts

by Kirsti Call

My kids and I adore Andrea Beatty's books! Rosie Revere, Engineer is one of our favorites. So we were very excited to read Andrea's new book, Ada Twist, Scientist, which came out this month.

Kirsti Call: Do you utilize picture books as mentor texts?  If so, how? 

Andrea Beatty: I don't really use other books as mentor texts when I'm writing. In fact, I rather avoid reading other books in a similar vein or topic to my story for fear that it will prevent me from writing the story that's in my head. In trying to avoid steering toward that text, I would inadvertently veer off the road in a different direction. It would all be too distracting from the story that I need to write. I have enough voices in my head without complicating things further.

KC: How has reading picture books helped you discover who you are as a writer?  

AB: The quality of picture books in the last 20 years has been astounding. Much, much better than when I was a kid. There were some great ones, of course, but the variety and depth of prose and magnificent illustration was nothing compare to the books available today. Seeing such a spectrum of styles was liberating for me because it helped me realize that I should just write my own stories. If they were good enough, they would find a home out there in this brave new picture book world.

KC:  Were there any particular mentor texts that inspired you in the creation of Ada Twist Scientist or any of your other books?

There are certainly books which have influenced me as a writer. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS and MISS SPIDER'S TEA PARTY come to mind. They showed me that rhyming books can include an emotional story arc and be very moving. I love rhyme, always. But often, rhyming books are sweet and silly but don't have much emotional heft to them. I still love those and have written some.  

I never set out to make a point or have a moral in my stories. I find that sort of quest tedious and I think kids' do too, but my stories sometimes find their heart during the adventure. I love it when that happens because readers connect to that. Fiction is magical!

Thank you Andrea! 

Andrea Beaty is the bestselling author of ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER which spent more than 62 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List and is even going to the International Space Station with Story Time From Space!
Andrea’s  other books include the award winners Iggy Peck, Architect, Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies, and Secrets of the Cicada Summer. Andrea’s characters are smart, funny, and unapologetic in their passion. They are doers. Curiosity, creativity, innovation and persistence are recurring themes in her work. Andrea visits dozens of schools each year and is also available for Skype visits. For more information, visit her website: www.AndreaBeaty.com. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Revealing ReFoReMo with Traci Bold

Traci Bold was an active participant during ReFoReMo 2016 and continues to participate in the Facebook group. We excited to have Traci share what she's learned from ReFoReMo!

Guest post by Traci Bold

I love the thrill of researching books.  For each of my works in progress, I enjoy finding mentor texts that show me what I'm missing.

During ReFoReMo 2016 I discovered...

1. The vast world of non-fiction.
I reference ‘Water is Water’ by Miranda Paul and “A Rock Can Be’ by Laura Purdie Salas frequently for bringing out the passion in my NF writing for nature. (Other highlights: Back Matter with: Marcie Flinchum Atkins; Non-Fiction with Laura Purdie Salas; Lively language/NF with Jen Swanson)

2. Books fall into different sub categories. I do not limit myself to just one. I let the book fall into place for its own merit. For example, I started writing a book about a majestic sequoia and what it endured through its lifetime. It was purely non-fiction. The idea came from using a Word of the Day selection and was inspired by reading Jason Chin’s ‘Redwoods. But as I rewrote the story, the non-fiction element remained and crossed into a fiction book. (Cross genres with Maria Gianferrari)

3. My love for words. Reading books I hadn’t yet read, especially the difficult subjects, deepened my love of words. There is a nuance to writing these, so I studied the subtle style and am using these mentor texts to help me with works of mine that are about uncomfortable topics.  (Uncomfortable topics with Tom Lichtenheld; Reader Experience with Debbie Ridpath Ohi)

4. The nuances of every page. 

5. The fun of researching and revising!

6. Others' comments on ReFoReMo posts bring fresh ideas and new perspective. 

7. I want my books to be like the guest posts;  succinct, powerful and always positive.

The kidlit community has a great camaraderie and support system and ReFoReMo is a wonderful part of it. I am humbled to be a part of it now too, even though I am not yet published (working on it J) So thank you Carrie and Kirsti for all that you do to support the #kidlit authors and illustrators and making us feel like we belong; you two rock!

Thanks so much for sharing, Traci! 

If you would also like to share your ReFoReMo experience, we welcome you to review our submission policy for the Revealing ReFoReMo series.

Traci bold lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two college daughters. She writes picture books and YA full time. She belongs to SCBWI, 12x12 Picture Book Challenge, and ReFoReMo. You can find her on Twitter @1967BoldWriter, Facebook-Traci Bold, Pinterest and her webpage- boldwriter67.wordpress.com. Ghost and animal/nature stories are her favorite to read and write.